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Rank expectations, feedback and social hierarchies

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  • Kuhnen, Camelia M.
  • Tymula, Agnieszka

Abstract

We develop and test experimentally a theoretical model of the role of self-esteem, generated by private feedback regarding relative performance, on the behavior of agents working on an effort provision task for a flat wage. Agents work harder and expect to rank better when they are told they may learn their ranking, relative to cases when they are told feedback will not be provided. Individuals who learn that they have ranked better than expected decrease their output but expect an even better rank in the future, while those who were told they ranked worse than expected increase their output and at the same time lower their rank expectations going forward. These effects are stronger in earlier rounds of the task, while subjects learn how they compare to their peers. This rank hierarchy is established early on, and remains relatively stable afterwards. Private relative rank information helps create a ratcheting effect in the group's average output, which is mainly due to the fight for dominance at the top of the hierarchy. Hence, in environments where monetary incentives are weak, moral hazard may be mitigated by providing feedback to agents regarding their relative performance, and by optimally choosing the reference peer group.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 13428.

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Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision: Jan 2009
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:13428

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Related research

Keywords: rankings; incentives; feedback; moral hazard; intrinsic motivation; ego utility; self-esteem;

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References

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  1. Cowen, Tyler & Glazer, Amihai, 2007. "Esteem and ignorance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 373-383, July.
  2. Tor Eriksson & Anders Poulsen & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2008. "Feedback and Incentives : Experimental Evidence," Post-Print halshs-00276396, HAL.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Ghazala Azmat & Nagore Iriberri, 2010. "The provision of relative performance feedback information: An experimental analysis of performance and happiness," Economics Working Papers 1216, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  2. Azmat, Ghazala & Iriberri, Nagore, 2010. "The importance of relative performance feedback information: Evidence from a natural experiment using high school students," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(7-8), pages 435-452, August.
  3. Brice Corgnet & Roberto Hernán-González & Stephen Rassenti, 2011. "Real Effort, Real Leisure and Real-time Supervision: Incentives and Peer Pressure in Virtual Organizations," Working Papers 11-05, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.

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